I recently found a box in my parents' garage with all my scribblings, stories, and sketches from time immemorial. The sad truth is that most of them were in my school notebooks, which is how I got where I am today- but that's a kvetch for another blog.
I found a Dr. Who novel I wrote (the term "fanfiction" hadn't been invented yet) when I was in high school. I remember that my friend Wendy was extremely pissed that I left it on a cliffhanger. The good news is that it's terrible- and by that, I mean my style, plotting and characterizations have vastly improved over the years.
The bad news, which made cry as I thumbed through it, was that I've completely lost the sense of intrinsic joy I had about writing when I wrote it. I used to love putting my ideas on paper and not caring at all about the aforementioned plotting, style, etc. I didn't care if I'd ever sell it- I just had a sense that someday I would, and until then I had fun letting my imagination run wild.
These days, I kill myself before I start. That little gremlin at the back of my mind keeps whispering that I'm 32 and still haven't gotten my career going, so whatever I do, it better be sales-worthy- and whatever I do will never be good enough. What I do write these days is extremely dark. (My friend Craig J. Quack's feedback usually ranges from "You are one dark mamajamma," to "This made me want to commit suicide.") Even when I try to be funny, I'm really just being biting and cynical. Maybe I've just become a different person. I also spend more time bitching about published work than actually doing my own. (Like how Stephen King ruined his Dark Tower series by making himself a character in it and not bothering to write an ending, and how The Davinci Code reads like it was written by a sixth grader. Sorry, but "people said he looked like Harrison Ford" is NOT characterization, goddamn it!) See, there I go again!
Another problem is time. These days, the only time I really churn out words like I used to is when I'm laid off and have the day free. When I'm working, I catch the bus at 5:30, and when I get home I'm pretty much wiped out and useless. If I want to get anything worthwhile done, I'll have to get up at about three, which means I'll have to go to bed at seven- maybe eight. Just how committed am I, anyway?
I'm working on a second draft of a book I've been writing for a few years. I'm captivated when I read through it by the depth of the characters, by the ideas I mixed to (hopefully) create something new, by the detail of the world I've created. However, it's so depressing that even I don't want to read it, much less show it to anyone. Maybe I'll just shelve it until I baseline some Prozac, or until I get the Kids in the Hall DVD set. Whichever comes first.